Encounters Between Cultures – Oyibo in Africa IV

If you live with your husband’s relatives in the family compound in the village they’ll try to take the best parts of the meat in whatever you are cooking. Should you attempt to stop them they will retort saying their ‘brother’ owns you, the pot and the soup. In order to preserve the integrity of your soup pot you must be able to fight with them and win. To avoid the indignity of getting your ass whipped or if you are not ready to engage in daily war fare, physical or verbal,  you either resign yourself to cooking for twenty or cook so badly no one wants to eat your food. Do not bother to complain to your husband, he is helpless to do anything other than make ineffectual noises. Matter of fact most Igbo-Nigerian men secretly desire strong wives to battle their relatives and keep them out of the soup pot.

Moving far away from the in-laws to town will not solve the problem.  They will come looking for your trouble. Under Igbo-Nigerian tribal laws not cooking for any one of your ‘husbands’ if they took it upon themselves to visit you is enough grounds for divorce. It is very important to know which of the myriad of relatives merited your retiring immediately to the kitchen to slaughter the fattest chicken you owned (if you owned such a thing) and prepare pounded yam and soup from scratch and those that could be served yesterday’s leftovers. Such knowledge could be the difference between ‘I am married’ and ‘I was married’. Village meetings have been summoned as a consequence.

“Okoro can you imagine! I went to my grandfathers’ brothers’ cousins sons house uninvited in the middle of the week and his wife who was leaving for work refused to make pounded yam and oha soup from scratch for me saying she was late for work. She sent her house girl to give me 2 slices of bread and an egg with tea. Please we must call a village meeting immediately and send her back to her father. What kind of wife is that!”

Being extremely lazy and self centered when most of my in-laws come I rarely remember to ask them about their families and events in the village much less if they are hungry. This is the height of bad manners. But then I really don’t care if they think I’m bad mannered. I moved out of the village to get away from them. Coming to my house uninvited with enough luggage for a month is bad manners where I come from and since I’m not complaining neither should they. Asking them to go is out of the question though, even your husband will draw the line there, they could ostracize him for that. The thought is tempting.

However, there are a few of the in laws  who are very dear to me (did I mention there are hundreds of in laws and husbands?). When they arrive I immediately order pizza and beer, they enjoy the oyibo food and treatment and quickly return to te village to share the news with the others.

‘Our wife Chinwe doesn’t joke with me o. As soon as I arrive she gives me beer and she only gives me oyibo food.l She knows I don’t have time for your local food when I visit her.’

Oha Soup from http://www.dobbyssignature.com/
Oha Soup and pounded yam from http://www.dobbyssignature.com/




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